In the history of sport there are few storylines to match the astonishing way Rory McIlroy has come back from his heartbreaking meltdown at the Masters to take the US Open crown with an unbelievable display of pure genius.
Breaking records galore, the hugely popular 22 year old Ulsterman from Holywood in Northern Ireland has written his name into sporting legend with a breathtaking coming of the age.
Finishing on an unprecedented 16 under par 268, McIlroy demolished the competition at the Congressional Country Club, ending eight shots clear of Jason Day. His final round 2 under par 69 saw him smash the tournament scoring record by a whopping four strokes.
“It feels incredible to be a major Open champion,” said the modest McIlroy who chaulked up rounds of 65, 66, 68 and 69. “I have always dreamed of achieving this. And after what happened at the Masters in Augusta this year I wanted to come out and not just prove to myself but prove to everyone that I was good enough to win a major.”
At every stage of this epic triumph, the young Irishman has set new standards and won the hearts of a global audience on the way to eclipsing his boyhood hero Tiger Woods and keeping the crown in Northern Ireland following Graeme McDowell’s success last year.
Not since Woods – who missed this tournament with injury – stormed to a 15 stroke victory at the US Open in 2000 has anyone made such an awe-inspiring impact on the game of golf. Not only has he become the youngest winner of the US Open for 88 years. But he has done it in a swashbuckling manner of unprecedented brilliance.
Even before his remarkable glory was complete his achievement prompted awe from beyond his own sport, with tennis legend Rafael Nadal revealing how the Ulsterman’s brilliance is an “inspiration” for him as he sets out on the defence of his Wimbledon title.
“For sure, Rory is an inspiration. I admire him a lot,” said Nadal. “I love watching Rory. What he’s doing is really something unbelievable.”
This is only the first major for McIlroy – 10 weeks after his nightmare collapse at the Masters – but you will not find anyone who follows the game of golf who believes that this will be his last because the youngster has the aura of a champion who is here to stay for a long time.
This inspirational young man has the world at his feet. And everything about him suggests he can become one of the most famous sportsmen on the planet.
He certainly charmed a worldwide audience as he made an emotional victory speech after giving his father Gerry a huge victory hug.
“Happy Fathers’ Day dad. This one’s for you” announced McIlroy, whose dad worked as a barman at the Holywood Golf Club where Rory grew up from a toddler to a golfing superstar. “Everything my mum and dad have done for me over the years I can’t thank them enough.”